In his new book, “The Whitney I Knew,” gospel artist BeBe Winans describes his 28-year friendship with singer Whitney Houston. Winans, 49, and his sister CeCe, performed with Houston and sang at her funeral in February. Winans talked about her faith and why he won’t rush to see her in “Sparkle.”The interview has been edited.
I felt it would enable me to embrace the pain and come to the other side of it and also, in my personal way, paint the picture of who Whitney really was and not allow just the tabloids to describe who she was.
It was her foundation, where she learned how to sing. It’s where she learned how to trust God. It meant everything to her.
I think when things really took off – “The Bodyguard,” not just music but movies and motherhood and everything else, I think she lost her way. But she didn’t lose her understanding of who God was and his existence. She held on to faith and grace even in the midst of being far away sometimes.
Sometimes I would tell her, “Why are you singing that song like it’s a gospel song?” So many times, she’s singing a song and before you know it she’s singing the lyric, “Thank you, Lord” and it’s nowhere in that lyric of the song. But it was always who she was. When she took a song, she reached down to that foundation that she was raised in.
A lead vocalist like Whitney Houston loves singing background. We could stay in the studio for hours when we would have the song already done because we just enjoyed that blending of our voices.
I believe that happened to Whitney. Is it right? Is it wrong? What I’ve learned in my personal life and watching Whitney as well – we all have to graduate to that point where we trust him (God) to be exactly above every problem that we have.
Not at all. It was a song that not only she loved but a song that she believed. It was a song she sung constantly, onstage and offstage. When she asked for me to produce that on “The Bodyguard” soundtrack, it was like, “Well, I know I got to do it because this is your favorite song.”
The answer is no. I’m not because it will be painful. I will see it. I won’t see it when it first comes out because I know the reality is that she’s gone.
We sing “Shoop” (from the “Waiting to Exhale” movie soundtrack) because it’s so appropriate: “With every win, someone must fail. You’ll find a point when you will exhale.” And, I’m finding that point in the reality of her loss that I can exhale.